AM At The Movies: ‘Now You See Me 2’

AM At The Movies: ‘Now You See Me 2’

Now You See Me 2
Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Run Time: 2h 9min

I really liked Now You See Me – it was original and fresh and entertaining, boasting a strong cast, some slick moves and a quality twist. It wasn’t an Oscar winner by any stretch, but it remains a pretty solid entry in the re-watch rotation.

Its sequel won’t be.

Now You See Me 2 picks up a couple years after The Horsemen jumped off the roof in New York and went underground, but his time, as they ready to re-emerge, they’re minus Henley (Isla Fisher), creating an opening for Lula (Lizzy Caplan) to join the crew.

Rather than bilking their benefactor out of millions, they’re hauled into a heist by a tech genius, with the side plot focusing on the adversarial relationship between FBI agent/Fifth Horseman Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the magician-turned-magic debunker they pinned the heist from the first film on.

Neither are particularly strong or cohesive, which could be salvaged or even overlooked if the other elements of the film worked better, but they don’t, so they can’t be and therein lies the problem with Now You See Me 2.

This is a sequel for the sake of making a sequel – there was no real cliffhanger at the end of the first film and when you attempt to resurrect a franchise that has no clear next direction, finding a way to bring them back that works is a tall task, one that writer Ed Solomon and director Jon M. Chu were not able to complete successfully.

And yet they did manage to get the green light for a third installment, which is obvious in the final moments, even if you didn’t know Part 3 was coming heading into the theatre.

What worked about the first one is what is missing in its follow-up.

There are no surprises – no “who’s behind it all?” and no “how will they pull it off?” because all the cards get put on the table this time around and the chances of the presumptive good guys not being able to pull it off are slim, especially when you know NYSM3 is due out in a couple years.

That’s not to say this film is without solid moments.

Caplan is a great addition – funny and sarcastic, she’s more of an outsider to the group than another narcissistic magician looking to make sure she gets her screen time and equal shake, which works well in this ensemble. And the group as a whole has very good chemistry, which comes through here in spades just as it did in the first flick.

Harrelson is great again as well, picking up where he left off as mentalist Merrit McKinney. As an aside, it’s time we start giving Harrelson his due for being a great actor because as much as he’s played some mediocre roles over the years, he’s become a guy that you bank on every time out, even when he’s given something shallow and lacking, like he is here.

He loves playing a washed-up magician that has made good again, and you can see he enjoys being part of this troupe, which helps make the messy story a little more tolerable.

The magic moments are still fun to watch, even if they do pull back the curtain on everything this time around, as if The Horsemen are conducting a “How to Do Magic” seminar within the film. The best sequence is a slight-of-hand, card spinning exchange that you see glimpses of in the trailer and is even better in full on the big screen.

But while the first movie is still great even when you know the big reveal at the end – which, yeah, sorry about that, we’ve spoiled in the course of this review – the sequel doesn’t have the same draw. Outside of catching the “pass the card” routine on YouTube a couple times once it invariably makes its way there, Now You See Me 2 doesn’t have that same “I could watch this again” feel of its predecessor.

Tags: Movie Reviews

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